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Recovering Quickly from a Serious Injury

Find out how Jamie Headon, the Fittest Man in Ireland three year’s running recovers from serious injury in the shortest time

Jamie Headon is a 25-year-old Optimum Nutrition ambassador, one of Ireland's best CrossFit athletes, a qualified personal trainer, three-time Ireland’s Fittest Man and one of just three Irish men to qualify for the Crossfit Regionals back in 2017.

Hailing from a sporty upbringing (Headon and his two brothers Sean and Paddy have dabbled in boxing, rugby and everything in between throughout the years), the Dublin native has always yearned to push his body to the limits when it comes to athleticism.

Here’s what he learnt from his change of training, eating and recovery strategies when it comes to injuries and how you can use them to build the strongest form you’ve ever had.

Can you explain in detail the injuries you’ve faced over time?
“So basically to start, I was doing CrossFit and my two or three-year-goal was to make it to Crossfit Regionals, which basically means you’re in the top 30 internationally. I was doing some Olympic Lifting and tore four muscles in my shoulder so I had to get full reconstructive surgery.”
“I tore my bicep right off the bone, tore the labrum and dislocated my shoulder. Basically, I had to get three surgeries in one go and from there it was just non-stop rehab.”

How hard was it getting back into the gym afterwards?
“I got surgery on the 22nd of September last year and was not able to lift a bar until May 2018.”
“Right after, I was in a sling and got back to training to keep my mind right just 10 days after surgery.
Headon told us how he prioritised training to work on the muscles he could while allowing the rest of his body to heal.
“After the surgery, I just trained other ways like sitting on a bike and moving my legs as well as rehab and conditioning. At that point, I was going to physio five times a week, doing three hours of a floor band and rehab work as soon as I was allowed.
“Because I couldn’t lift anything, I changed my routine to allow for more aerobic training. I started with cycling – I got a road bike, got really into cycling, then as soon as I could move my arms I got into running. Then when I could pull my arms I got into rowing.
“Earlier in the year, when I was conditioning and doing aerobic work, to set a marker for myself, I told myself I was going to do the Manchester Marathon relay with Optimum Nutrition who entered a team in April to get my head back into it. Which I eased myself into.
“Then in August of this year, I got back into my first competition – the Marseilles Throwdown – and won that!”

What was your approach to regaining your lost muscle mass during the times you were injured?
“For me, it was changing up training as well as my frame of mind. Flipping it and kind of using your training to your advantage. After doing all that, I’m now fitter than I’ve ever been.
“Also to really focus on rehab, slowly doing movements that wouldn’t injure you further.
“I also took my Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA Train + Sustain throughout. I took protein even when I wasn’t training to try and heal my muscles while they were injured because your body needs protein for muscle repair.
“My diet was also really clean, and I was taking the right supplements the whole way through.”
How did your approach to nutrition change from rugby training to Crossfit?
“So, I suppose I didn’t know anything about supplements and wasn’t with Optimum Nutrition when I played rugby. So my routine has changed in that respect.
“Now I’m more educated and take my supplements. I take Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard BCAA during my sessions to kickstart recovery and Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 100% Whey.
“I don’t count calories but like to keep them high, same with my protein. Just eat clean, really.”
What role did supplements play in getting you back to your best?
“They really helped me to recover fast. I took them during recovery while I was injured because I knew muscle had to grow back and had to repair. So that included Whey Protein in the morning and evenings and my normal routine of BCAAs while training.”


1. Physio / Sports massage
“I had physio five times a week when I was injured.”

2. Rehab
“This is really important not to skip on, even though it can be boring.”

3. Strong mindset
“Do what you can do instead of what you can’t do. Being mentally strong and knowing you’re going to use that time to get better is hugely beneficial.
“Pick out events in a few months time, like the Manchester Marathon. Stay focused on the things you’re able to do.”

4. Nutrition
“Eat clean and get your protein in to aid muscle recovery.”

5. Rest
“Get a good sleep in every night, that’s really important. Not getting back into CrossFit right away was the best thing for me. It was eight months before I picked up a bar again and I was so much better for it.”

6. Prioritising what you can and can’t do
“Use the parts of the body you can at that moment in time and work with them. Flip it around and try to get involved in another competitive sport like I did with aerobics and cycling. And I got really into that!”

7. Not rushing
“Setting realistic goals and not going beyond them will get you through the injury time without going mad. If you’ve got a big goal and then get injured, it’s obviously a setback – but you can work around it and come out stronger and fitter for it.”